Speaker Mike Johnson promised Saturday that the House would vote next week on legislation to fast-track $17.6 billion in security aid to Israel without conditions. The move is likely to complicate Senate leaders’ efforts to rally support for a broader package of border security measures and aid for Ukraine.
Mr. Johnson’s announcement to members of his conference came as senators struggled to finalize and vote on a bipartisan national security bill that had taken months to negotiate. The move could further erode GOP support for the emerging compromise, which was already faltering amid criticism from party leaders including Mr. Johnson and former President Donald J. Trump.
Mr. Johnson, a Republican from Louisiana, said the Senate package was dead on arrival in the House and argued that its border security measures were not tough enough to curb the recent surge in immigration. He said the House would instead focus its efforts on impeaching Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro N. Mayorkas – a vote on which is now expected to take place next week.
In a letter to his members on Saturday, he said the House would also prioritize its own approach to supporting Israel’s war effort against Hamas, regardless of what, if any, related legislation the Senate brings forward.
“Your leadership recognizes that by not involving the House of Representatives in its negotiations, it has lost the ability to quickly consider legislation,” Johnson wrote, adding that “the House must impose its will on these issues and our priorities.” must be addressed.”
Senate negotiators have been working on a comprehensive national security funding bill to meet Republican demands that any bill providing military aid to Ukraine also significantly improve security on the southern border with Mexico. The new legislation, which includes measures making it harder to apply for asylum and increasing both detentions and deportations, would also send more military aid to Ukraine and Israel, provide humanitarian aid to Palestinians in Gaza and response efforts financing Chinese threats to the Indo-Indian region. Pacific region.
Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and majority leader, announced this week that the Senate would vote no later than Wednesday on whether to adopt the bill, the text of which negotiators are expected to release no later than Sunday.
But the measure is already facing stiff headwinds from Senate Republicans who believe border control provisions should be tougher, as well as those who oppose a politically challenging vote on a bill that is all but certain to die of the Republican-led House of Representatives will fail.
Several Republicans in the Senate and House have called for a divided approach that would address Israel’s war effort separately from Ukraine and the border. Late last year, the Democratic-led Senate rejected a Republican attempt to force a vote on an earlier Israel aid bill supported by the House. Democrats protested the way the House GOP bill tried to fund the funds by making cuts to the Internal Revenue Service.
In his letter on Saturday, Mr. Johnson acknowledged that history.
“Democrats have made it clear that their primary objection to the original House bill was its balance,” he wrote, adding that “with the new Israel package, the Senate will no longer have excuses, however misguided , against the rapid passage of this critical support.” our ally.”
The new bill, introduced by House advocates, is larger than the House’s previous Israel measure, which totaled $14.3 billion. President Biden had requested that amount for Israel as part of a larger request he made in October for additional funding to address various global crises, including Ukraine.
But it does not include funding for humanitarian aid to Palestinian civilians in Gaza, which many Democrats say must accompany any military aid to Israel. Several left-wing Democrats are also pushing for any military aid approved by Congress for Israel to be conditioned to ensure that U.S.-supplied weapons are used in accordance with international law and that aid deliveries to Palestinian civilians are not hindered.
The $17.6 billion House measure would allocate $4 billion to replenish Israel’s Iron Dome and David’s Sling missile defense systems, as well as $1.2 billion for anti-missile and missile defense Provide short-range mortar attacks. Another $8.9 billion would be used to supply Israel with weapons and related services, assist the country in producing its own weapons, and replenish defense stocks already provided by the United States; while $3.5 billion would be used to support U.S. military operations, embassy security and efforts to evacuate American citizens in the region.